Our new Featured Maker is Annabel Williams: an emerging leader in the “slow yarn” movement. We love her soft colors and chic, minimalist aesthetic. But perhaps most of all, we admire her deep-rooted commitment to sustainable practices. Each skein she dyes is meticulously sourced, supporting local and small farms whenever possible. Please read on to learn about Annabel, and then visit her website to see more gorgeous, naturally dyed yarns!
Tell us about who you are and what you make/sell!
Hi! I’m Annabel, the maker and the brains behind annabelwilliams.co.uk, a naturally dye studio of gorgeous, ethically sourced yarn on a slow and small scale. For me, it’s important to know the origins of your purchases; that way you can make informed choices, so traceability is at the heart of what I do. My yarns are sourced from farms that go above and beyond caring for their flocks with the best possible practices. My first collection is dyed with avocado skins and stones from a local restaurant who are zero carbon. I’m interested in how I can reuse and recycle to make modern yarns for modern knits with as little impact on the environment as possible.
Where do you work? From home? Do you have a studio space?
I work in a little studio close to where I live in Bristol, UK. Having a space like this means I can be messy when I work and leave ends on the floor without being told to clean up.
How/when did you fall in love with the yarn world? Did someone teach you, or are you self-taught?
I trained as a weaver and my Mum taught me to knit and sew when I was little. I think I’ve been in love with everything fibre since I can remember. My dye adventures came out of not really knowing where my work was fitting – I was working for a really wonderful arts & health charity whilst weaving/knitting/making but I wasn’t very happy with the direction my creative work was going in, I couldn’t find my place. So I left my job, realised I wanted to work directly with fibre and, voilà launched my yarns a few months later in November 2017.
Where can we shop for your yarns?
My shop! www.annabelwilliams.co.uk.
What are some of your favorite materials/tools?
Organic Merino! Any day. It’s just so…squishy.
What are your other hobbies?
I wish I had more time to sew. I recently organised my pattern stash and I have so many. Knitting and the lure of ‘just one more row’ always seems to take over. I also have an allotment that I’m currently transforming into a dye garden so hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a few homegrown dyes.
What is one of your favorite things you’ve ever made?
That’s a toughy but I think it’s got to be my wedding dress. Well, part of it at least. I found a beautiful boutique who had a two-piece where the skirt was entirely silver sequins. I had to have it but I knew I wanted to add my own twist. My lovely mother-in-law gifted me her lace wedding dress and let me chop it up! So I made a simple but perfectly paired topper. It was everything I could have imagined and I can often be found swooning over it.
Do you have any fibre-crushes? People who inspire you?
Sari Nordlund recently designed a cable knit sock pattern with my wool and it’s amazing – we’re so lucky that there are lots of great independent designers, dyers and LYS’s out there at the moment. Modern knitwear has been having its moment for a while, long may it live. But I think my inspiration is my Mum. She has such good style and always puts beautiful combinations together that I would never have thought of. Ptolemy Mann was a big inspiration when I was starting out, she was selling her loom just as I graduated and I snapped it up in a heartbeat.
Do you have any favorite fibre-related books?
I was recently given Hannah Thiessen’s ‘Slow Knitting’. It celebrates everything that knitting is about – rewarding, thoughtful, considerate, connecting to the past and the natural world. It’s a beautiful book. I have big plans for pretty much every pattern in it.
Any new skills/products you’re excited to be developing right now?
I launched my Spring collection at the end of February so I’ve been getting to know other dyestuffs and how they react to different fibres.
For anyone interested in knowing more about what I get up to in the studio or when new yarns hit the shop – sign up here All newsletter subscribers get a free natural dye guide and I have a few other goodies lined up so it’s good to stay tuned.